IN PICTURES: Large religious gatherings around the world

Muslim pilgrims at the Masjid al-Haram after performing the 'Jamarat' ritual, the stoning of Devil, in Mina near the holy city of Mecca, on 4 October 2014. Photo: Dilek Mermer / Anadolu Agency / Getty Images

JOHANNESBURG - From India, to Thailand to Saudia Arabia, below are some images of religious gatherings which draw thousands of people every year.

The Maha Kumbh Mela festival - India

Indian devotees bathe and offer prayers at the banks of Sangam, in Allahabad, Uttar Pradesh, India, 13 January 2013.

Hindu pilgrims from across India and outside gather at the banks of Sangam, the confluence of three of the holiest rivers in Hindu mythology, Ganga, Yamuna and the mythical Saraswati, during the Maha Kumbh Mela festival to bathe as it is considered spiritual and washes away sins according to Indian Hindu belief.

The festival takes place every 12 years and this year's gathering will go on for 55 days. EPA/Anindito Mukherjee

Hindu devotees take the holy dip during the last royal bath on the banks of the holy Ganges River in Haridwar, Uttarakhand, India,14 April 2010.

For Hindu devotees, the three-month Maha-Kumbh Mela offers the chance to wash away their sins with a ritual bath in the holy waters of the Ganges River. Photo: EPA/Harish Tyagi

The Hajj – Saudi Arabia

Muslim pilgrims perform the midday prayer at the Nimra Mosque, believed to have been built on the spot where the Prophet Mohamed stopped to pray the day he made his last sermon, on the Arafat plain, near Mecca, Saudi Arabia, 23 September 2015.

The Prophet Mohamed is said to have delivered his last sermon at the top of Mount Arafat, praying anywhere on the Arafat plain is part of the Hajj Muslim Pilgrimage, the most important event in the life of a Muslim. The Hajj pilgrimage 2015 took place between 22 and 26 September. Photo: EPA/Amel Pain

Muslim pilgrims throw stones at a symbolic devil while attending prayers, hours after a stampede had taken place in Mina, near Mecca, Saudi Arabia, 24 September 2015.

According to Saudi authorities, the death toll of the stampede which occurred as pilgrims observed on the rituals of the Haj pilgrimage exceeded 700 and 800 injured. Photo: EPA/Amel Pain

The Shembe pilgrammage - South Africa

Adult men and elders dressed in traditional costume dance and sing to receive blessings as thousands of Zulu followers of the Zulu Nazareth Baptist Church, (Shembe Church) gather at an annual pilgrimage at Judea, Eshowe, South Africa, 28 October 2012.

Once a year 20,000 followers of the Shembe Church gather in the rolling hills of KwaZulu-Natal province in South Africa to pray and dance and enjoy the community of fellow Shembe worshipers. Photo: EPA/Kim Ludbrook 

A father from the Nazareth Baptist Church, (Shembe Church) carries his son while other followers walk bare foot during the annual pilgrimage at Judea, Eshowe, South Africa, 28 October 2012. Photo: EPA/Kim Ludbrook 

Makha Bucha Buddhist festival - Thailand

Thousands of Thai Buddhist monks chant during a lantern lighting to celebrate Makha Bucha day at Dhammakaya Temple in Pathum Thani province, on the outskirts of Bangkok, Thailand, 25 February 2013.

Makha Bucha or Magha Puja also known as the day of the Fourfold Assembly is one of the holiest days to commemorate on the full moon night of the third lunar month the day that Lord Buddha gave the first sermon on the essence of Buddhism in to his ordained 1,250 monk disciples assembled all by spontaneously gathered without an appointment. Photo: EPA/Rungroj Yongrit

Thai Buddhist devotees pay respect during a religious ceremony to mark Makha Bucha day at Dhammakaya Temple in Pathum Thani province, on the outskirts of Bangkok, Thailand, 04 March 2015. Photo: EPA/Rungroj Yongrit

Taong Putik, or “Mud People” festival - Philippines

Filipino devotees with body covered in mud and dried leaves pray at a Catholic church in a pagan religious tradition in a village of Bibiclat, Aliaga township in Nueva Ecija province, northern Philippines, 24 June 2012.

Hundreds of devotees perform the annual rites in the hopes of having their wishes granted mostly on bountiful harvest in farming which coincides with the feast day of their patron saint, Saint John the Baptist. Photo: EPA/Francis R. Malasig

Watch eNCA's special feature Charistmatic Africa below. eNCA reporter Thulasizwe Simelane takes a close look at politics, economics and faith, and how they are shaping religion in the country.


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